On May 31, 2012, I was invited to speak on behalf of the private sector during the 10th National Prayer Breakfast at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.
Here is what I told the distinguished gathering that included President Kibaki, and political, religious, business leaders and government officials amongst others:
Having been involved in the first Prayer Breakfast 10 years ago, it is with a lot of gratitude to God that I address you today.
The last 10 years is great testimony that we are a blessed country. We have made great progress as a country and learnt huge lessons along the way, which if practiced will set us on a path to an industrialising nation by 2030.
For instance, we have spent more on infrastructure in the last 10 years than we have done since independence. Our democratic space has expanded significantly including Press freedom and many other things. Let me enumerate some of these lessons as we move into the next decade.
Our country has a young population. The rate of unemployment is unacceptably high and the private sector must play its role in creating jobs. To do this, the government needs to do more to create an enabling environment. The cost and availability of energy, rail connectivity and road network will go a long way in lowering the cost of doing business and ensure the private sector thrives to help achieve our vision.
PRAYER 1: That the government will put more effort on this score and that we shall be a model in infrastructure in the next 10 years and lead by example in the Mombasa Port, Lamu Port and indeed, Konza City, our Silicon savannah.
Security. One of the greatest threats to business and indeed our society is insecurity that is driven by the situation in Somalia. We applaud the government’s commitment to flush out the Al-Shabaab. It is a huge issue where the international community should play its role since the matter affects not just Kenya but all countries using the Indian Ocean.
PRAYER 2: The international community, some represented in this gathering, will do more to bring lasting peace in the region.
Selflessness. All societies that have progressed in the world, democratic or otherwise have had one common factor. They have had a selfless leader (s) with a compelling vision. Whether you think of Malaysia or Singapore, or you look at Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, selflessness was a key trait. During the next prayer breakfast, we will have held a General Election.
PRAYER 3: God bless this country with selfless leaders who have a clear vision and genuine commitment to creating wealth for this country and uplifting its citizens. We know that we have the resources to do it and pray that we shall have good stewards - servant-leaders whose primary motivation will be to serve society.
Talking of the elections, we recognise the three arms of government. The Executive and the Legislature will be involved in the polling leaving the Judiciary to arbitrate in the event of any conflict. We, therefore, want to pray for the Chief Justice and his team who have a huge responsibility of ensuring that the transition is smooth. We thank God for the new Constitution and trust the CJ will uphold it at all times.
What is the private sector doing about the elections? We have chosen not to be bystanders and cognisant of what happened during the 2007/2008 post election violence and have come together and contributed resources leading to the launch of Mkenya Daima campaign.
This campaign seeks, among other things, to empower the citizen to acknowledge that this country belongs to all of us. That we are indeed “Wenyenchi’- its owners. That we employ the politicians and not the other way round. We call on all people to support this campaign, including financially, so that it can create the right environment for posterity.
East African integration. As we move to the next phase of our development, we applaud the Government for taking very definite steps to help recreate the East African Community. We pray that the next phase will involve establishing an even bigger common market to make our goods and services more competitive by enjoying a critical mass that will lower unit costs. I believe that will be the only way we can hope to compete with the emerging markets from the East particularly India and China.
In fact, statistics show that though trade doubled from US$ 2.1bn in 2005 to US$ 4.25bn in 2010, our trade with the rest of the world grew at a faster rate.
Agriculture. Last year, the private sector was heavily involved in the Kenyans for Kenya campaign whose objective was to feed our drought-stricken brothers and sisters. Our hope and prayer is that we shall implement an agricultural policy that not only encourages farmers to grow food but also ensure we have enough reserves. God has granted us the necessary setting and we cannot continue to use our hard earned foreign exchange to import food. We pray that no Kenyan will starve to death in the future.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Kenya is too important to be left to politicians. I urge all of us, the Church, the private sector, the civil society and other stake holders to step up and do their bit in driving this country forward.
God bless Kenya
POSTSCRIPT: The National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, in reaction to this speech said: “We are all politicians and Kenya has been left to us all.” I must admit on reflection, that he is right, but I am also sure he understood what I meant!